Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Zuraidah Alman about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video), the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video), the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD) and the comedy “Yes, God, Yes” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Meryl Streep musical “The Prom” (Netflix), Rachel Brosnahan in the crime drama “I’m Your Woman” (Amazon Prime Video) and the COVID thriller “Songbird” (Premium VOD).
Director Ryan Murphy returns to familiar territory with “The Prom,” a high school musical adapted from a Broadway show now streaming on Netflix. The creator of the pop culture juggernaut “Glee” throws subtlety out the window and ups the ante with an all-star cast to bring the all-singing-all-dancing story of inclusivity to glittery life.
The action begins on the opening night of a Broadway show, a musical about Eleanor Roosevelt starring two self-involved stage icons, Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and Barry Glickman (James Corden). When terrible reviews force the show to close on opening night, taking their dreams of Tony Award glory with it, they fear they’ll never work again. Joining in on the pity part are
Trent (Andrew Rannells), a Juilliard grad waiting on his big break by bartending at Sardi’s restaurant and Angie Dickinson (Nicole Kidman), a “Chicago” chorus girl who has spent twenty years for her chance of playing Roxie.
At the same time across the country in small-town Indiana controversy in brewing. Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington), head of the local PTA, has announced that to preserve community standards, gay high school student Emma Nolan (Jo Ellen Pellman) will be banned from attending the prom with her girlfriend.
Cut to New York where the four actors hatch a plan to find a cause they can support to boost their dented public images. When they hear about Emma’s plight, the self-proclaimed “liberals from Broadway” hop on a bus for Indiana to bring their self-styled (and self-serving) activism to the Midwest.
High jinks and high stepping result.
“The Prom” is a feel-good movie that not only celebrates inclusivity but also the form of the musical. It’s an ode to Broadway and, in these isolated times, the importance of entertaining people. When Dee Dee tells high school principal Tom Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) she’s planning to quit the business, he says, earnestly, “You can’t quit because I need you to do what you do.” It’s a lovely sentiment but it makes the clumsy handling of many of the musical numbers somewhat mystifying. If this form is so important, why are the big dance sequences such a mish mash of frenetic camera work, candy colors and flailing choreography? There is a difference between dazzling and dizzying and Murphy errs on the side of the latter too often.
Other than that, “The Prom” fits alongside pop musicals like “Bye Bye Birdie,” another show about actors trying to wring some publicity out of a small town. It’s peppy with a game cast. Streep, Rannells and Kidman have fun in big performances and Corden goes for it, but made me wonder if Nathan Lane, who would have been terrific, or Brooks Ashmanskas, who played Glickman on Broadway, were otherwise engaged while the movie was being shot.
The film’s heart and soul, however, is Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma, the gay high school senior who displays resilience and courage in the face of prejudice. She’s terrific in a role that requires her to sing, dance while pulling on your heartstrings.
If you are someone who has the release date of “West Side Story,” which features Pellman’s co-star Ariana DeBose as Anita, marked on your calendar, or if the words “Meryl Streep raps” grab your attention, then you’ll want to put “The Prom” in your Netflix queue. It aims to please fans of the genre and delivers a blast of feel-good vibes but probably won’t win over people who don’t like it when actors suddenly burst into song.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the crime drama “White Boy Rick,” the Nicolas Cage rage-a-thon “Mandy” and the thriller “A Simple Favor.”
The name Paul Feig is closely associated with comedy but with “A Simple Favor” he takes a step away from the laughs to present a story of intrigue and suspense that begins with a friend asking for a little help.
The labyrinthine plot begins with Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), the plucky single mom of a young son. She’s a keener, a food vlogger who is always the first to volunteer for everything at her son’s school. When she meets Emily (Blake Lively), the blunt talking mother of her son’s schoolmate, she is smitten. Stephanie is lonely, a widower who pours herself into work and her son’s life. With Emily she discovers the pleasures of pouring a martini in the afternoon as a “reset” for the day. The pair bond almost immediately despite Emily’s warning, “You do not want to be friends with me, trust me.”
When Emily asks Stephanie for the “simple favour,” of picking her son up after school, the eager mom agrees. Trouble is, Emily disappears into the great wide open, leaving Stephanie stuck with a child and grieving husband (Henry Golding). As she struggles to find closure and poke around in the corners of Emily’s life she discovers her friend wasn’t quite the person she thought she was. “Secrets are like margarine,” Steph says, “easy to spread but bad for the heart.”
From here the film deep dives into a twisty-turny story of intrigue, misplaced love and insurance scams.
Midway through Stephanie asks, “Are you trying to Diabolique me?” It’s a call back to a 1955 psychological thriller that saw terrible people plan a murder while maintaining a perfect alibi. There are missing bodies and other comparisons to “A Simple Favor” but the similarities end there. Feig gets great performances from Kendrick and Lively but is a bit too leisurely in getting into the meat of the matter.
The opening scenes of the friendship building between the two women sparkle. Kendrick is wide eyed and naïve, with just a hint of the darkness that may lie beneath her perfectly manicured soccer mom exterior. By comparison Lively is an exotic beast, decked out in designer clothes and perfectly tousled main of blonde hair. Her candour puts Stephanie and the audience off balance. She loves her son Nikki, but money woes occupy her mind. Despite living in a rand home with all the amenities she’s on the verge of bankruptcy. “The nicest thing I could do for Nikki,” she says, “is blow my brains out.” Their friendship always seemed unconventional but Emily’s frankness hints at what is to come.
That’s the good stuff. From there “A Simple Favor” becomes a maze of good and bad intentions, fake outs, incest and gaslighting. Motivations shift and the twists pile up as the plot takes a darker tone. Trouble is, it takes too long to get where it is going. The interplay between the characters remains enjoyable but as they become increasingly unreliable narrators the story feels convoluted and stretched.